Sunday morning 14th June

Sun 14 Jun 2020 08:17
32:01N 28:48W cog 100 moving to 90, sog5, often 7 and sometimes up to 11, Parasailor up all night.

Useless Raymarine doesn't show or use average speed, so we get to the waypoint at 9am on the 21st, or 5am on 19th, or midnight on the 18th etc as fast as the SOG varies, and all these varying ETAs are displayed and change as fast as I can type them. Actually faster. Raymarine (incl formerly Autohelm) software is tested on a motorboat in Portsmouth harbour, I saw the test boat in Port Solent. What a load of rubbish, can someone have a word? I called them a few times with a dud screen, ended up being passed around and said Oh look just put me through Ray, willya? But there's no Ray in charge at Raymarine, which I think shows a lack of imagination right there hm? If I was in charge I'd tell head of support - use the name Raymond, Ray for short. Seems the buck doesn't stop anywhere at Raymarine. That's enough Raymarine Ranting for today.

Ampi called me up at 3am with a bunch of targets on the radar screen. Looks like its been set to automatically acquire and track the targets, so there's five of them pointing all over the place, Ooer. They're rain clouds, not actual vessels, so their motion is haphazard and I can see why she called me. I pressed buttons so the software doesn't acquire/track the targets automatically, and cleared the targets (are you sure? Yes I am sure you mumsy olde-worlde programmer, imagine if a car did this when you wanted to apply the brakes or turn left/right for crissakes Are You Sure?) and the screen looked a lot less scary.

In the rain clouds the boat was hissing along 10kts, but Ampi doesn't mention it and it clearly wasn't why she called me up at all. Ampi says all fine now, you can go back down now Matt? You aren't due for your watch until 4am? But with boat doing 10kts I kinda think I oughta stay up, really. Solid crew though, eh? Ampi isn't in the least fazed about boat speed of 10knots or more, because nobody has ever shrieked WE'RE DOING TEN BLOODY KNOTS JEEZ! Which somebody would do on most sailing courses, and probably most sailing boats, I suppose, and possibly at well before ten knots, too.

We surfed along at mostly 7 or 8 knots and up to 11knots for an hour with wind astern peaking at 15knots, though most of the time I saw boat speed of 6+ with apparent wind 9knots. There's a noticeable lag in boat speed as the rain clouds kick up more wind... and now it's died again, back to almost 5knots with apparent about 7. Then up again with SOG 7.5 and apparent wind another 10, these all with win dead stern, autopilot wind-vane mode set to 180.

So in total ("true") wind of 12knots astern the sail catches enough to drag us along shopping-trolley style at 5knots. In a true 15knots we see 6-7 knots sog, 7knots in 17true, 10 at 22, 11 at 25, but I suppose it varies - faster in flatter water and maybe this is flatter water - waves under a metre. Ok maybe two metres max.

Last night Anna rigged soft shackles to loop together both lines on each side and cut the tap-tap-tapping noises from the four long lines as they take up and release strain. These run from the bows over 10metres back to the cleats and and winches so they bounce a fair bit even when taut. Although her idea worked it's not ideal - to adjust the sail significantly you gotta get these off first. In future I'll rig the crossed stabilising lines higher on the a-frame to hold them more clear of the deck, and maybe use snap shackles from the shrouds to hold the main guy ropes (which take the bulk of the force and run through the standup blocks on the tip of the deck at each bow) higher and more clear from the superstructure roof - the main guy ropes tap the roof every so often. Seperately I might tell Anna she's gotta wear my sailing gloves when rope-twiddling what with her yerknow, training to be a surgeon soon...

Like the others, Sam is delighted that we're flying the ridiculous pirate sail, and chuckles with Anna and Ampi that of all the boats sailing back to Europe, they found the one with a pirate sail, haha.

Sam notes that I bought the sail several years before I bought this boat - so did I actually buy the boat to be able to use the silly sail? Well, hm, sort-of, but not really. I actually bought the sail to improve the sail speed of previous boat (Mojomo) which went fine with the smaller Pirate Parasail but I felt could be faster. So I ordered this bigger one although the only time I flew it it ripped down the forward steelwork (dolphin seats) in a squall. It was somewhat too big for the boat and I hadn't got it fully restrained side-side. While buying this boat I certainly checked for a direct route for guyropes from bow tip to main helm stanchions, so maybe I DID buy the boat to fly the sail. Or it was a factor at least.

Looks like the wind has moved around further as forecast (or maybe more rain cloud stuff) but we'll likely have to pull this down sometime this morning to avoid going too far north out of our way. We've flown it dead astern overnight and I'll do that again (probably not this trip) and although it can be rigged for wind up to 120degree winds, it's a bit iffy and better in daylight. Night-time stronger Atlantic trade winds probably strictly at 180degrees apparent off the guy ropes and forward blocks. 11knots sog with the boat flat and quiet down below is quite peculiar, somewhat trippy or possibly just insane.

6am local and I plan to let the sail rock and roll us along a few hours yet - the boat has been quiet all night. Downwind sailing with Ahab the Parasail is smooth indeed. Seems that the very powerful wind machine on Lanzarote has been put into reverse after almost 3 weeks of blowing against us. So there's a chance that the crew might be getting some sleep after a busy day on the foredeck yesterday and their 18 days of overnight Continuous Severe Earthquake therapy. A half-full 2litre water bottle has been left standing on the cockpit table all night - smooth sailing indeed.

Other boaty stuff: the batteries are fine at way down to 20percent- lithium is a different world for onboard electrics. The gas has lasted the whole trip so far, but it was the right move to get an extra bottle and special thanks to Rene at Island Water World in SXM for sorting this at the last moment when I found that we'd have a real chef along just four days before leaving. The watermaker and pump has behaved itself, so not used any of the emergency 5litre bottles which I might chuck into the tank over the next few days - I'll keep the empties for next trip. Overall I reckon that this blog entry has gotta score highly with the transat sailing types.

The ordinary sails (and the motors) will take us to Lanzarote just under 800miles ahead. "Just" 800 miles, haha.